In case you were wondering what on earth could motivate the campaign to subject
‘What needs to be interrogated,’ Cohen asserts, ‘therefore, is the set of ideas that underlie the boycott movement as well as their appeal, both actual and potential…’
…In opposing the existence of a Jewish state, the boycott movement remains faithful to the long-held opposition of many left-wing ideologues toward Jews asserting themselves as an identifiable, autonomous collective.
Who are these left wing ideologues? Plenty of socialists find identity politics – political activity that places identity as a member of a group defined by ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, and so forth – a distraction from the class struggle that can eradicate the economic conditions that foster oppression. We don’t oppose Jews asserting themselves as an identifiable, autonomous collective any more than we oppose anyone clinging to any other self defeating illusions.
I was also surprised to read that the BDS movement opposes the existence of a Jewish state. Plenty of antiZionists are involved in the movement, but from what I’ve read, the vast bulk of the movement explicitly supports the existence of a Jewish state bounded to the east by the Green Line. It’s not until the very last paragraph of the pamphlet, where he reemphasises ‘the fundamental aim of the boycott movement: not the withdrawal of
Unbeknownst to actual participants in the movement, who overwhelmingly derive their inspiration from the movement against South African apartheid,
In advocating the economic, cultural, and political isolation of
The apartheid parallel is not lost on Ben Cohen,
Finally, in demonizing Israel by comparing it with the former apartheid regime in South Africa—a grave deceit that is a core concern of this paper—the boycott movement seeks to force Israel to abandon, internally, its Jewish character and, externally, its sovereignty.
The last time I checked, the movement that culminated in the 1994 end of
The campaign for BDS has enjoyed some encouraging successes in raising the issues in
It is cynical ahistoricism to draw an analogy between
when applied to Israel, the analogy is, at best, a careless and hasty attempt to graft the structure of one state onto another, simply bec
Just like the Holoc
To underscore the fundamental differences, Cohen writes,
Devised in the 1940s, the concept of ‘transfer’, removal of the indigenous Palestinians, was intrinsic to the racist culture of the Zionist regime and its prescription of separate (and unequal) development for different ethnic groups. By the 1970s the poverty-stricken territories were home to nearly four million Palestinians, many of whom were forcibly deported and deprived of citizenship in the new state, or any nationality at all. Starved of resources and entirely dependent on the Israeli regime (which controlled everything entering or leaving the West bank and
Just kidding. This is what he really wrote:
Devised in the 1940s, the concept of the bantustans, separate “homelands” for blacks, was intrinsic to the racist culture of the apartheid regime and its prescription of separate (and unequal) development for different racial groups. By the 1970s the poverty-stricken bantustans were home to nearly four million blacks, many of whom were forcibly deported and deprived of their South African citizenship. Starved of resources and entirely dependent on the apartheid regime (since the absence of international recognition meant that international aid was not available), the bantustans were nonetheless touted as a permanent solution for
There are real differences between the South African and Israeli versions of settler colonialism, which I’ve discussed elsewhere. In a nutshell, where the South African economy relied crucially on the labour of the enormous Black majority, Zionism has for much of its history aspired to replace indigenous Palestinian labour with ‘Hebrew labour’. The original Bantustans were a fiction erected specifically to deprive the colonised of political rights within ‘
Cohen finds it ‘supremely ironic’ that
…those who insist that Zionism represents a surrender to anti-Semitism, who go on to claim that anti-Semitism is simply a rhetorical trick to muzzle criticism of the State of Israel, who grudgingly concede that Jewish identity may have, after all, a valid religious component, but stringently reject anything beyond that—present their approach as the key to making Jewish communities secure. From a Jewish perspective, such a position is transparently dishonest.
It just so happens that I am among ‘those who insist that Zionism represents a surrender to anti-Semitism’, so I might have something to say about these other accusations he’s leveling at me. Clearly, what he intended to write must have been that we claim specifically accusations of anti-Semitism are the rhetorical trick, not anti-Semitism per se. In many cases, those making the accusations may really believe that criticism of Israelii policy is anti-Semitic, but the vast majority are simply slurs, and often enough, as in Cohen’s case, part of a deliberate policy of trying to undermine criticism by tarring it with the ‘anti-Semite’ brush. But that is a very far cry from a claim that they are ‘simply a rhetorical trick to muzzle criticism of the State of Israel’. Anti-Semitism has a long history and there really are anti-Semitic incidents, including in Israel itself.
To say that Jewish identity has ‘a valid religious component’ is not the same thing as to say that some Jews derive our ethnic identity from participation in the community that engages in Jewish religious practices. The latter is transparently the case. But no, my Jewish identity has no religious component. Like any other form of identity politics, Jewish identity is a response to racism. Even when the oppressed embrace their own ethnic or ‘racial’ identity, it’s the racists who define the race by biologising whatever ad hoc racial markers they prefer to apply - appearance, cultural practice, surname… What makes me a Jew is that anti-Semites consider me a Jew. The Nazis’ racist 1935 Nuremburg Laws, prescribe that ‘A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews...’ and ‘Full-blooded Jewish grandparents are those who belonged to the Jewish religious community.’ I also meet the definition in the racist 1970 amendment to the Law of return: ‘For the purposes of this Law, "Jew" means a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion.’ Above all, though, I’m a Jew bec
Cohen reveals a great deal about his agenda when he claims that people like me ‘present their approach as the key to making Jewish communities secure’. It’s true that I have made the point from time to time that
“Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows? I feel just as sorry for the wretched Indian victims in Putumayo, the Negroes in
Clearly, from his perspective, the ‘Jewish perspective’, to neglect to privilege Jewish security over all others is anti-Semitic. It’s simply bizarre that Zionists can accuse their mildest critics of singling out
If the AJC can pass off stuff like,
and the rest of Cohen’s legion of straw men, the Hasbarists will have further c